(Manchester, NH) — Last night, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered remarks at the FIRST Founder’s Reception in Bedford. The reception kicked off the 2023 FIRST Robotics Competition, which begins on January 7, 2023.
“I was glad to attend the FIRST Founder’s Reception to meet with mentors and students involved in the 2023 FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST has a strong track record of inspiring students to pursue futures in STEM fields, especially those from underrepresented groups,” said Shaheen. “As a former teacher, I know how invaluable opportunities like outside-the-classroom programs are for student success. I’ll keep working in the Senate to ensure organizations like FIRST have the resources necessary to support hands-on learning activities in STEM education.”
Founded by Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) utilizes interactive programming to inspire and encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields. FIRST provides opportunities for hands-on learning with STEM professionals, while simultaneously developing leadership and 21st century work-life skills.
Through her leadership on the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen has been a strong advocate for STEM education and scientific research funding priorities. In the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, Shaheen secured inclusion of language based on her bipartisan Supporting STEM Learning Opportunities Act to allow funds to support research and development of innovative STEM educational programming, including afterschool and other outside-of-the-classroom activities. This language seeks to improve federal investment in experiential learning opportunities to strengthen the pipeline of students entering the STEM workforce, especially from traditionally underrepresented groups like women and communities of color. As part of the Fiscal Year 2023 federal spending bill, Senator Shaheen secured $1 billion in funding to carry out this work.
Shaheen led bipartisan legislation to create an honorary coin that pays tribute to Christa McAuliffe, which was signed into law in 2019, to reaffirm American commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, with a portion of the proceeds from sales of the coin going to Kamen’s FIRST Robotics to promote STEM education.